Several social media posts have surfaced expressing concern over the health of Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros after he showed signs of tiredness during the last Easter sermon at the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in the New Administrative Capital in Cairo.
He is the 118th pope of Alexandria and patriarch of the See of St. Mark, succeeding the late Pope Shenouda III as leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
Church spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said that Pope Tawadros’ sudden health problem occurred after the end of the Mass prayer and that a medical examination revealed “a simple inflammation of the facial nerve.”
He added: “It is known that the facial nerve mainly shows its effects on the face and that Pope Tawadros, following the doctors’ instructions, stopped pastoral meetings for several days. However, he continues to receive visitors according to the meetings scheduled. He will not completely stop all activities.
“The treatment of inflammation of the facial nerve requires relative rest with appropriate medications and physical therapy, and recovery from inflammation varies from person to person and according to the degree of response, but in all cases, it takes several days or weeks.”
Coptic activist and researcher Robert Al-Fares said: “The pope, during the Easter Mass, adhered to meeting well-wishers on the morning of the feast, and appeared on television because he did not want people to worry about him amid the joy of the holiday.
“It was necessary for him to go to the hospital for medical analysis and x-rays. As soon as the results of the examinations appeared, he returned to the papal residence in Cairo.”
Al-Fares added: “His Holiness has a health file in a hospital in Europe for 15 years through which routine periodic follow-ups are conducted.”
Rumors circulating on social media, he said, “aim to harm society and Christians in Egypt and the East, given the status of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria, and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.”
Phipps Issa, a priest of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Egypt, said: “Prayers were made for the health and well-being of Pope Tawadros in the blessed Pentecost Mass on the morning of June 4. It is correct that the church does not respond to the rumors that are spread on social media pages, as some rumors do not deserve a church response.
“I see that 95 percent of what is published on the social media pages about the pope’s health are rumors and lies, so the church is not interested in responding to these lies and rumors.
“Yes, we know that the pope suffers from diabetes, like about 5 million Egyptians, and that he needs to change the treatment protocol from time to time, which is normal, so why do they talk on social media about severe injuries due to this chronic disease?”